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Top, top television: here's how they'll line out in the studios this summer

Stuck at home and torn between the “expert analysis” of RTÉ, BBC and ITV? Let us help you to decide.

RTÉ

What’s on? All 31 games (27 live with deferred coverage of other four games in the final round of the pool stages) plus a nightly highlights programme. Oh, and Après Match…

The boss: When it comes to RTÉ, Billo’s yer only man. In fact, O’Herlihy is possibly the only man that can coax a semi-coherent discussion about football out of Giles, Dunphy and Brady without letting it descend into a pen-flinging scrap. Prepare for another month’s worth of “okey doke”, “right-o” and “live”…

The star man: It’s star men in this case as Richie Sadlier and Kenny Cunningham both get the nod by virtue of the fact that they’re the only pundits likely to have seen 90% of the tournament’s teams and have any sort of intelligent contribution to make. They’re probably not going to shift the Giles-Dunphy-Brady troika from any big matches though.

The joker: Like him or loathe him, Eamon Dunphy’s abrasive trolling is the most compelling reason to watch RTÉ’s coverage. Find another pundit who has called Cristiano Ronaldo a “poofball”, Rio Ferdinand a “tramp” and Harry Kewell a “fat clown” and we can take the discussion from there.

The rest: George Hamilton, Peter Collins, Stephen Alkin and Ger Canning will be RTÉ’s four-man commentary team in Poland and Ukraine, so you can expect to hear Hamilton on most of the big gigs. Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, Trevor Steven and Brian Kerr are on co-commentary, while Didi Hamann joins John Giles, Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady, Kenny Cunningham and Richie Sadlier on punditry. When Billo’s in bed, Darragh Maloney will be your host.

Verdict: Not just the only station showing all of the games but also the only station with pundits willing to tell it straight. If you’re watching elsewhere for commentary, make sure you switch back at half- and full-time.

Euro rating: Four inflatable hammers (out of five).

BBC

What’s on? 16 games (including both semi-finals and the final) as well as a highlights programme.

The boss: Gary Lineker. If you can tolerate the smug, self-satisfied grin that accompanies every cringeworthy pun, he’s not that bad.

The star man: Martin Keown, but for some unknown reason, the powers that be have decided to stick him on co-commentary duty with such thought-leaders as Mark Lawrenson, Mick McCarthy and Mark Bright. What a waste.

The joker: Harry Redknapp, even if most of the jokes will probably take place outside the studio and at his expense. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to sit him down with Dunphy for a night of punditry on RTÉ?

The rest: Colin Murray and Manish Bhasin join Lineker on the presenting team. In the studio, we have the “expert” opinion of Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer, Lee Dixon, Clarence Seedorf, Jurgen Klinsmann, Niall Quinn, David James and Redknapp (Robbie Savage will be there as well but he doesn’t even qualify as “expert” in inverted commas.) Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce and Simon Brotherton are on commentary with Lawrenson, Keown, McCarthy and Bright beside them.

Verdict: They’ve got the best team of commentators — and there’s no ads on the Beeb — but like Dalglish-era Liverpool, you get the feeling that they just don’t know how to use the assets at their disposal.

Euro rating: Three-and-a-half inflatable hammers. Docked points for taking Keown out of the studio and for Robbie Savage. Mainly for Robbie Savage.

ITV

What’s on? 14 live matches on ITV1 and ITV4, plus a highlights package that covers the rest.

The boss: Adrian Chiles, who is described by ITV’s press release as “one of television’s most versatile and sought after presenters.” Say no more.

The star man: Roy Keane. Even if he looks distinctly uncomfortable with selling out into a life of punditry, he’s not afraid to go against the Chiles-induced consensus and call out his fellow pundits for talking absolute twaddle.

The joker: Gordon Strachan. Now if only we could understand his jokes…

The rest: The “all-star pundit panel” features Keane, his old buddy Patrick Vieira, another footballing chum in Jamie Carragher, soon-to-be ex-Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, Strachan, Gareth Southgate and Andy Townsend. Clive “balmy night in Barcelona” Tyldesley is the main man in the commentary box with Gabriel Clarke and Ned Boulting on reporting duty.

Verdict: A weaker line-up of pundits than the rest, though the potential frolics between Keane, Vieira and Carragher do redeem it somewhat. Can’t stand Clive Tyldesley though, sorry.

Euro rating: Three inflatable hammers.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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